Author Notes

Go, stranger, and to the Spartans tell that here, obedient to Spartan law we lived our lives and fell.
—Diodorus (my paraphrase)

Chris Howard


Ode to an Aneurysm

Chris Howard


What have you done forever

to blow your thoughts backward

through cerebrum and red hair

my thin Catholic girl?


My god there must be something to eat

to make you right again

to strip the absence from your hands

your belly

the lips that whispered to me

you could feel yourself bleeding

in mass

after English third hour


How could you have taken any of it seriously?

Serious enough to poison yourself

with their false humiliations

and fixed game

Letting the bitches

pull me aside at Christmas

to tell me smugly

what you had done

no longer fearing the name

of my thin Catholic girl


I saw it then

should have told you

in your parents’ A-frame attic

under prayer shawls

and green equalizer display

everybody hates themselves like you do

and they hate you more


deep inside they always knew


Your absence so full

that my anger is tuning like an orchestra

And I wonder if you would mean

half this much

—your life worth so much more than theirs—

if you could still speak

of the nada of everything

how you push it down

and it's back again

‘our nada who art in nada’

my thin Catholic girl


Spiders circling a candle

on patio table silent alien legs

stitching into Illinois night

the smoke of a clove cigarette burning

pupils distended like an animal's

pupils like whatever

as you said

‘Ready to go?’


Upstairs creaking wooden stairs

watching you ascend spine pelvis


Ready to empty myself

into your tight bleeding bag

to take my place

among your collection of DNA

alongside the scar collector

and the soft-spoken skinhead

whose mandible

snapped like a shot

when hit with a full Natural Lite


In the A-frame attic

should have told you

tell me the books you've read

bad authors so clever

and you hate them

and vaguely know why

as you paint obscene pictures

of your own body


Tell me of

your new tattoo

black ivy cinched like razor wire

tell me of

your father

who looks too long

when you watch videos

laying on the new carpet

I should have told you


Tell me of

the white flash

as you kneeled in pajamas

a grown woman in a Lincoln Park loft

my thin Catholic girl

alone for a second

in the knowledge

that it all

comes down to

one clot

swimming upwards

through the wrong vein


Wait for me

and it will be

my honor

to submerge with you

and come back again

into the smell of burning houses

to boil

at your side

And between our howls

and shrieks

you can whisper

how much you like music

and my back when I'm sleeping

and how you feel yourself bleeding

in mass

after English third hour

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